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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Valentine’s Day 2021: spread love, not COVID-19

Are Whatcom County residents ready for Feb. 14?

Kevin Buck, the owner of Chocolate Necessities, charging gift cards at his Guide Meridian location in Bellingham, Wash. on Feb. 6, 2021.
Kevin Buck, the owner of Chocolate Necessities, charging gift cards at his Guide Meridian location in Bellingham, Wash. on Feb. 6, 2021. Buck has owned the business since 1986, so the demand for Valentine’s Day is nothing new to him. // Photo by Madison Roper.

By Madison Roper

Close to a year of being stuck inside, Whatcom County residents are getting ready to show their love for one another on a Valentine’s Day like no other.

Crystal Stewart, owner of Yeah Baby Boards in Ferndale, said she’s giving people a safe holiday by delivering charcuterie boards right to residents’ doorsteps. With social distancing in mind, Stewart implements contactless delivery so customers don’t have to stray far from home during the pandemic.

Charcuterie boards are made up of multiple food items, such as meats, cheeses and candy. The items are arranged in a way to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Artistically arranged cheeses, meats, berries, candies and other foods make up a Valentine's Day charcuterie board made by Crystal Stewart, owner of Yeah Baby Boards in Ferndale.
Valentine’s Day charcuterie board made by Crystal Stewart, owner of Yeah Baby Boards in Ferndale. // Courtesy of Crystal Stewart.

“What makes Yeah Baby Boards so cool is that you don’t need to be at a restaurant to have a date night with your spouse,” Stewart said. “It just brings the love that you usually would spend out, spending a lot more money at a restaurant, but in the comfort of your own home.”

After moving to Washington state and not being able to find work, Stewart started her business in December of last year.

Holidays like Valentine’s Day have shown an increase in sales, but Stewart said she is handling it well by scheduling deliveries and ensuring that her kitchen stays fully stocked.

Stewart also said she likes to source her food for the charcuterie boards from local businesses to support other business owners.

“Partnering with my community has really made my business so successful,” Stewart said. “I’m just looking forward to growing the business and the community.”

On Jan. 28, the National Retail Federation released a 2021 Valentine’s Day insight, in collaboration with Prosper Insights and Analytics, based on a survey of 7,882 U.S. adults. The survey found that 52% of U.S. adults plan on celebrating the holiday and will spend an estimated $21.8 billion this year.

According to the insight, 54% of those surveyed plan to give candy as gifts, which works in favor of Chocolate Necessities owner Kevin Buck.

14-pack of handcrafted truffles, made at Guide Meridian location of Chocolate Necessities.
14-pack of handcrafted truffles, made at Guide Meridian location of Chocolate Necessities. // Courtesy of Kevin Buck.

“In the history of the company, we’ve had a half-hour wait to get to the door,” Buck said. “We try to prepare as much as we can.”

Buck said the top item from Chocolate Necessities is their truffles, which are made fresh at their Guide Meridian location and last for only two weeks.

Buck founded Chocolate Necessities in 1986 after he tried high-quality chocolate in Canada and begged the question: “Why can’t Americans have this quality?”

“It starts with the top ingredient,” he said. “Most of the chocolate I’m using now, it’s a special order. Distribution people hate me because the stuff I want is not on their list and they have to go through extra work, but worth it.”

Buck said in order to find the quality of chocolate, people need to ask what kind of chocolate businesses are using. 

Many companies use sugar to sweeten the chocolate, meaning cheaper chocolate has high sugar and low cocoa butter, Buck said. He went on to say a high content of cocoa butter means smoother chocolate and a sensory experience that people come back for.

According to the National Retail Federation’s survey, 17% of people plan to utilize local small businesses. According to the insight, this year is the first time people have listed small businesses as a top-five shopping destination since the question was added to the survey in 2015.

The insight estimated that of the $21.8 billion, $11.7 billion will be spent on a significant other.

Lauren Wallach, a third-year at Western Washington University, and Spencer Bispham, a first-year at the University of San Diego, will be celebrating their first Valentine’s Day together since they started dating in June 2020.

“I love a good reclaiming,” Wallach said. “Valentine’s Day has become a capitalist thing. But reclaiming it and making it about spreading the love, I feel like that’s productive and forward-thinking.”

The two have yet to decide how they will celebrate but said they will have fun no matter what.

“It doesn’t have to be a monetary thing,” Bispham said. “I really appreciate a nice note, or even a nice text or phone call, in a huge way.”  

Wallach said she enjoys any excuse to make a big deal out of the little things.

“I’m also a big subscriber to Galentine’s Day, which there could be a more gender-neutral term, but supporting your platonic partnerships as well is really important,” she said.

According to the National Retail Federation’s insight, 3 out of 4 people believe that Valentine’s Day is important this year due to the state of the pandemic.

Lori Nash, a marriage and family therapist in Bellingham, said Valentine’s Day is a great time for people to be mindful of self love, familial love and love for friends.

“Valentine’s Day can be a great time to think about how others have made a positive impact on your life, and let them know about that impact,” Nash said in an email to The Western Front. “Rather than viewing Valentine’s Day as that one day you have to be romantic, try reframing it as a day to express appreciation and gratitude for others in your life.”

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